There were times when I liked being a minister’s daughter. I liked the instant family we had, the mix of ages who suddenly were connected to us. I liked that we never had to convince our parents to let us go to the church picnic or dinner or whatever (like some of my friends with non Christian parents did). I loved being ministered to by Dads preaching every week.
But there were times when I didn’t like it.
Now is one of them.
When Dad moved to minister in the country, Mum went with him and Joshua and I stayed in Sydney. We kept going to the church where Dad had been the minister for the past 8 years. This church has been vacant for about a year and a half and now, finally, we are about to have a new minister.
As we get ready to welcome this new family into our congregation I am getting nervous. The manse is being redone. Having lived in over 10 houses in my 22 years, the manse is the place I have lived the longest in my life. And while I knew it wasn’t ever ‘our’ house, it did feel like ‘My’ home. I had painted my room a lovely purple, we had a place in the kitchen where we had put tiny marks to measure our height as we grew. It was in that house that I had locked myself away in my bedroom the night Nana died, it was that house where I agonised over the HSC and took over the living room with my art major work, it was that house that I watched Dad battle with cancer. In that house I grew from a pimply, awkward young teenager, to a young woman.
I know it seems silly to feel attached to a house; it’s just a building of bricks and wood. But being a minister and missionary kid you learn not to put roots down because they’ll just be torn up again. But in that house I let my guard down, we lived there longer than anywhere else. In Vanuatu I knew we would always leave, but here the leaving was always in the distance, there was no time set and it never really seemed possible.
The manse is being redone for the new minister’s family. My lovely purple room is being painted a boring cream. They are ripping up the carpet and having floor boards instead. All the walls are being painted so you can’t see the marks that prove I was taller than Joshua at some time.
And I think that my thoughts about the house are really covering up my feelings about having a new minister. Having someone other than Dad preaching every Sunday. Having someone other than Dad leading our church. As people talked about what they wanted to find in a new minister in my mind I felt they were saying what they hadn’t found in Dad. When we voted to call our new minister I felt like I was betraying Dad.
I am a little scared that I will dislike the decisions that our new minister makes because it is not what Dad would do.
Change is a fact of life; I just wish I didn’t feel it so keenly.